Am I Doing This Right?

Photo by Ricky Kharawala on Unsplash

This post is an entry in Modern Parent’s “Am I Doing This Right?” writing contest.

Our dog has been stranded in another country for more than a year.

COVID nomads

Well, technically, we’re the ones who are stranded. We are COVID nomads, displaced by the pandemic.

For the past 9 years, Shanghai has been home to my American family. In January 2020, we had just returned from a holiday visit to the states and within 12 days we were evacuated due to the rapidly escalating situation with this strange, novel virus.

Five plane tickets purchased. Four suitcases packed. A n agreement with…

Finding unlimited confidence, no matter what anyone else thinks

Photo by April Walker on Unsplash

My children have been eating Easy Mac or ramen noodle cups every day for lunch. I’ve lost track of how long. A part of me is appalled but a larger part of me just doesn’t care anymore. I’ve mastered the secret of unapologetic motherhood and you can too.

I know what you’re thinking

Look, I have a house full of middle schoolers who I am homeschooling. When they got old enough to make themselves a meal in the microwave, I think I saw the heavens open for a minute. For a while they’d been on their own for breakfast, pouring cereal is easy enough. Having…

Conventional wisdom clashes with common writer’s advice

Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

Even a fool is thought wise until he opens his mouth. -Proverbs 17:28

The exception to the rule is when he picks up a pen, right?

Muddling through one’s first week on Medium, a repeated theme emerges quickly.

  • Write every day!
  • Publish 5 times a week!
  • Writer’s write because they can’t not write! (Even when they use the same word three times in one sentence and cling to the artistic choice to use a double negative.)

This begs the question — if I write every day and publish consistently, am I doomed to sound like a babbling idiot?

Perhaps the…

The first step to fixing the cracks is finding them.

Photo by Roselyn Tirado on Unsplash

After more than a decade of marriage, we found ourselves in a bit of a funk. Our relationship was fine, but we knew it could be better. Little did we know that these 3 questions would unlock a major renovation process.

The weekly check-in

It all started with an unassuming Pinterest post. A set of questions to ask each other weekly. It seemed overly simple and a little cliche. But it was an easy place to start, so we decided to give it a try.

Saturday mornings were set aside for “check-in meetings”. …

The innovations of the pandemic are revolutionizing family life.

Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes on Unsplash

On the eve of our eleven-ty-thousandth GoogleZoomHangTime, it struck me.

I work online. My kids go to school online. We see the doctor online. We can even visit museums and aquariums online. It’s about time for modern parenting to catch up and take advantage of these technological advancements.

After all, we spent enough quality time with each other during quarantine to last until my kids have grandbabies to offer. The pandemic forced us to frontload all of the family togetherness. The way I see it —from here on out, all of my parenting duties can be performed through a screen…

Playing the game while the rules are changing

Photo from Gratisography

In a landmark decision, the University of California will no longer consider SAT and ACT scores. A clear step in the right direction towards combatting educational inequity. But with teens entering high school, it feels like my kids are paying the price for change.

An ever-changing environment

As parents, we are facing an unprecedented onslaught of challenges. Madeline Levine wrote an entire book about the novelty of our situation raising children today.

But the dramatic disruptions of the last century — say, from working on a farm to toiling in a factory, or from fighting in a war to returning home — did…

Examining the most effective uses of a powerful rhetorical device

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”

Even if you’ve never heard the term anaphora, you know it when you read it. From the opening paragraph of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech — the simple repetition of a phrase can be the key to unlocking a strong emotional response in your reader.

An invitation to feel

Kelly Barnhill’s fantasy novel, The Girl Who Drank the Moon is filled with beautiful examples of this device.


Virtual, hybrid, home, or in-person — these are surefire signs that you did it wrong

Photo from Gratisography

I know that it’s been a rough school year. You probably want someone to pat you on the back and tell you that it’s fine. Kids are resilient. There’s plenty of time to catch up. And other pandemic platitudes.

But if you’re looking for someone to tell it like it is, read on. If you find yourself in any of the descriptions below, you most definitely failed.

You refused to adapt.

You spent an entire year dropping your child off at a vacant school parking lot. Backpack and lunchbox in tow, you left them to sit on the steps for a solid 7 hours…

A larger than life pregnancy taught me to question the impossible

Photo by Sergiu Vălenaș on Unsplash

9 lbs 5 oz and 9 lbs 10 oz

Those were the birth weights of each of my twins respectively. I’ll give you a moment to collect your jaw from the ground.

You have questions, I know that you do. I know this because I was incessantly peppered with them in public, by strangers, as I pushed my double stroller through Target.

While picking up diapers, “Did you have a c-section?”

While eying the frozen meals, “Did you carry to full term?”

While retrieving a pacifier with one hand and swiping a credit card with the other, “Do you have to use formula?”

And, my personal favorite, “Were they…

Sara Barnes

Homeschooling mother of three. Raising my family abroad. Lover of strong coffee and a good pun.

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